In a day and age where Hollywood is running out of ideas and has since taken the opportunity to seize the rights to several high-profile comics and graphic novels and turn them into blockbuster films, you’d never expect the creative team at Marvel Comics to want to do the same with the world of literature.
After successfully converting Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series to critical acclaim however, they soon took up the daunting task of bringing King’s master work, “The Stand” to comic book life as well. While many comic book and literature purists will shake their heads at these two mediums crossing paths, the end result is a labor of love that turns out to be an amazing effort that captures the essence of King’s work, while maintaining a standard of excellence in comic book artistry and storytelling throughout.
The first volume of the series, “Captain Trips” chronicles the first five issues of the series in a hardcover addition that fans of King and comic books alike will treasure for years to come.
Feeling like “The Stand for Dummies” writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four; he’s also written for the HBO series “Big Love”) and artist Mike Perkins (Captain America) are able to encapsulate a large part of the landmark novel and maintain the same motifs throughout, producing a work of extremely high caliber. While nothing will replace the original work, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that new readers will be able to understand the story and love it enough to deeply converse with someone who has only read the novel. (Unless one of them sneezes on the other accidently and ends their life.)
For that alone to happen is a major accomplishment in itself.
It’s amazing that in so little words, the ominous feeling of the book can be translated to the comic, but that’s exactly what happens here. Aguirre-Sacasa’s ability to subtly give details and flesh out characters makes the book an excellent one. Just like a great television show or novel, it allows the reader to connect to the personalities and relate to them. This in essence is what great storytelling is all about. From this work alone, it’s obvious Aguirre-Sacasa is a master of his craft.
With so many characters to delve into over the course of five issues, it could have proven quite difficult to not play favorites, but Aguirre-Sacasa tells a balanced story that shifts back and forth from good, bad and ugly with a seamlessness not seen in comics for quite some time, quite possibly , since Alan Moore’s “The Watchmen.”
Much like Moore’s classic and the novel this work is based on, after you read it, you’ll definitely be passing it around to your friends.
However, the writing in the book isn’t the only reason for that.
It’s actually the artwork of Perkins that guides the story, almost like an homage to the old days of Todd McFarlane with Spider-Man and Spawn. His visuals are colorful, full of life, yet dark and desperate- all at once. His depictions of the characters do an excellent job of bringing out their personality and improving upon the small statements Aguirre-Sacasa makes in his writing. Alone, they’d be a marvelous tribute to the book, but when combined with the stellar writing that runs through this book like a plague, you have the ingredients of a killer disease you can’t help but succumb to.
Chilling and addictive from start to finish, after reading this tale, you’ll never be able to cough or sneeze again without thinking about how much longer you have to live.
To those unaware of the beauty of this hybrid form of media, this may come as a surprise, but this book will make you think about your life and society more than you did before your fingertips flipped through its pages.
The Captain is coming- are you ready?